The multi-talented Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow is challenging people to post their top 5 of 2016.  I wasn’t sure I could get through writing it all up in the middle of the planning for the Day and Night Dress Challenge, but I’m doing it today!  Thanks Gillian for such a good framework for sewing reflections!  Here’s my Top 5 of 2016:

Top 5 Hits:

Animal print Velvet Dress: Ah, this one’s not for me, but I love it nonetheless.  It’s for the boutique that I sew for.  I’m reminded that if I find a velvet in a color I love, I am sewing this up immediately.


PR Lillian dresses! I had such a good time with this pattern for the One Pattern Many Looks contest on PR.  Now I have 4 Lillians to take me through our seasons, and they were a great way to explore materials.  Here I used lace, blockprinting, iron-on studs, and a cutting technique to create all the different looks.  I love them all, but the blockprinted dress is my favorite.


Denim trench coat: This was my entry for the Refashioners.  I put well over 30 hours of sweat into this jacket, and I regret none of it.  Portia put together an amazing challenge, and I went full tilt with latex paint, self fringe, bleach, and more topstitching than I ever want to think about.  I love wearing this coat.


Jalie sleep bras: How did I live before without sleep bras? Certainly not well.  These pretties have been in heavy rotation at night, and they’re so comfortable!  They’ve also kept me from having the tendonitis flare ups in my shoulders that I have always had before during nursing.  Another win from Jalie!

jalie 3131

Fringe collar dress: A few weeks before my daughter was born, I made this dress.  I love the blue against the print and the fringe is, ah, fringey.  I still need to open up the side seams and recut it to fit my now, not pregnant body.  It’ll be a fun project for a day when I have nothing else to sew.

fringe collar dress

Top 5 Misses:

There’s always the world of the unblogged projects, and I had a few of those.  The other misses fall under the categories of too big, pokey bits, and too weird.

  1.  Blank Slate Pattern’s Oceanside pants: Chief among the unblogged are a pair of Blank Slate Pattern’s Oceanside pants that I made out of a herringbone linen. The linen used to be raspberry which is a color that makes me look sick.  I bleached out the linen with Rit color remover, and it turned this pretty wheat color.  The pants themselves are super comfortable, but the waistband and the legs are just too too big.  There’s no side seam on this pattern, so it’s not the easiest to alter.  Actually, I’m not sure if I bothered to alter the pattern that I’d like these pants any more.  The resulting pants fall off me unless I use my best Girl Scout knots.  I know “loosely fitting” is a look, but I think it’s not a good one on me.
  2. Lace side tee: I also made this mixed materials long sleeve tee.  It fits fine and I like the look of it.  Shoot, I even matched the pattern of the lace at the side seams.  It’s just kind of meh.  Maybe I was trying too hard or something.  Maybe it just needs the right bottom to pair with it.


wool shorts

3. Wool shorts: I wore these wool shorts a lot during the summer, but only with really long tops.  Why, you ask?  Because I was silly and made shorts just after having a baby.  You would think I would have learned not to do that by the time I’m here at baby #4, but no.  Predictably, I lost the extra few pounds I was holding onto, and these shorts now are way too big.  Glad I didn’t cut into that nice jacquard yet I originally wanted to use!


4.  Too weird for real life: Sometimes refashioning is a good exploration in materials, and sometimes it yields you stuff that you actually love and want to wear.  This 80s zipper top is the former.  I amused myself thoroughly with the challenge of mixing 2 hoodies into 1 top, and I really like how I used the zippers in weird ways.  But this top is a little too funky for everyday.  It’s still warm, and I’m totally wearing it around the house.

colorblocked workout top

5.  Pokey bits: There’s a lot of things I like about this colorblocked workout top.  It’s my most complicated t-shirt hack to date.  In addition to the keyhole and the added seams, I put in a zippered one-layer pocket in the back.  Sadly, the top is a little too baggy (I should take in the side seams!), and the zipper of the pocket pokes me in the back.


I don’t write too much about non-sewing things, but here’s non-sewing highlights of 2016.

  1. I had a girl!  “Really?”  That’s what I said when she was born.  After 3 boys, it’s not what you expect, but she’s been the best surprise ever.
  2. Our youngest son has become an expert party planner.  His stuffed dachshund, Popcorn has a birthday at least twice a week.
  3. Our oldest played baseball and he and #2 played soccer.  Being a sports parent means a lot of driving.  Nobody tells you just how much driving.
  4. My husband and I (mostly him) are teaching the boys to play board games.  Our oldest memorized all 200+ cards of Agricola.  Sometimes our youngest wins Puerto Rico or Catan by proxy (usually Popcorn playing in his stead).  It’s all fun, and I’m glad we have kids who are more interested in board games over media.
  5. I ended up making 15 different kinds of cookies for our annual Christmas Cookie Extravaganza.  I always shoot for 12, but once you make one, then you make another and so on.



  1. With all my driving kids around, I’m learning that you really can get an amazing amount of work done in small chunks.  I set timers for myself between carting people around and I use all of that time to focus on my sewing.  After a while, things just get done.  I’m not a Mom who blames my kids for not being able to get things done, but I do notice that they push me to be more efficient, because if I’m not, it’s not happening at all.
  2. One of the judges in the Fabric Mart competition described my style as “funky.”  I’m not sure I agree with that word, but I will say that I’m going for unique.  Funky, unique, quirky…the writer in me puts too much thought into the weight of words at times.  Maybe it plays into why I haven’t achieved goal #1 below.
  3. I made some yoyos.  I used to make a lot of them.  Like tens of thousands of them.  I realize how much I’ve missed them.  I pulled out my Olfa circle rotary cutter and realized that it’ll cut through 4 layers of fabric at a time.  There’s already circles waiting for me to sew during movies.yoyo wristlet
  4. Fabric stashes happen.  Inevitably even though you have so very much fabric, you’re always out of whatever it is that you’re hoping to sew next.  For me, I go between having no knits or having no wovens.  Wovens and knits don’t live in my stash together at the same time, apparently.
  5. Babies make you clean your sewing room floor more often.  Otherwise, you’re picking fabric scraps and threads out of baby mouths.  Ask me how I know.  Thank goodness I don’t use too many pins!

 Top 5 Goals:

  1.  Win a contest: I know this isn’t totally dependent on me, but I’d really love to win a PR contest or any sewing contest for that matter.  There’s some good ones this year, and a win is always something that has alluded me.  Somehow, I think it would make what I do feel a little more validated.
  2. Get published: I’m going to submit to some more sewing magazines.  I really enjoyed writing for Seamwork and Altered Couture and I’d love to do more of it.Deconstructed Silk Scarf Jeans: Elizabeth Made This
  3. Make a jean jacket: I’ve made a lot of jackets, but I’ve yet to make a proper jean jacket.  I have a great Craftsy class that’s been gathering dust and an excellent Burda pattern for it.  Kyle’s jacket this last year reminded me that I should really give a jean jacket a go.
  4. Host a challenge: Hey, I’m getting that goal out of the way straight away with the Day and Night Dress Challenge.  I’m really looking forward to it.  I think it’s going to be great fun.
  5. Learn to pattern grade: I’m working my way through another Craftsy class, and this one has been really really helpful.  I fall outside of the pattern range on the small end for a lot of companies.  In the past, I’ve just ignored x, y, or z pattern and sewn something else.  Of late, I’ve decided this is silly.  I’ve graded my Burdas for years, why not anyone else?  See, silly.  In taking the class, I’m learning that my old methods were pretty much spot on.  Now, I’m going to tackle the more difficult single size patterns.  Vintage pattern stash, I’m coming for you!

How are you sewing your way into 2017?


Elizabeth is a self-taught sewist with a love for all things DIY and creative. Her friend calls her "The Fabric Manipulator" and she's always looking for ways to squeeze the most out of her sewing time in between caring for her 4 kids and husband.


  1. gilliancrafts Reply

    Those are some lofty goals, but totally do-able – good luck this year!! Happy 2017!

    • elizabethmadethis Reply

      Thanks Gillian. Happy New Year to you as well!

  2. You had a fabulous year! I love the velvet dress best, I must admit. I look forward to seeing what you make this year, and I know you’ll win a contest. You’re making such wonderful things it’s bound to happen!

    • elizabethmadethis Reply

      Thanks Diane! I had a good time with those Lillian dresses. Thanks for the vote of confidence. Happy New Year to you as well!

  3. Pingback: Herringbone linen Blank Slate Oceanside pants - Elizabeth Made This

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